Australia’s privacy watchdog, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, sues Facebook for alleged “systematic failures” exposing more than 300,000 Australians to the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
“The Australian Information Commissioner has lodged proceedings against Facebook in the Federal Court, alleging the social media platform has committed serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of Australian privacy law.” reads the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. “The Commissioner alleges that the personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed to the This is Your Digital Life app for a purpose other than the purpose for which the information was collected, in breach of the Privacy Act 1988.”
The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner accuses Facebook to have committed serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy, violating the Privacy Act 1988.
The commission alleges the personal information of Australian Facebook users was disclosed, without their consensus, to an app called “This Is Your Digital Life” that then sold the user data to Cambridge Analytica, which is a commercial data analytics company that allegedly used it to target US voters in the 2016 Presidential election.
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In April 2018, Facebook revealed that 87 million users have been affected by the Cambridge Analytica case, much more than 50 million users initially thought.
Regulators of many countries considered the Facebook practice to gather its users’ data was deceptive.
The Australian Information Commissioner launched an investigation into Cambridge Analytica in 2018 after the privacy scandal was disclosed.
“Facebook’s default settings facilitated the disclosure of personal information, including sensitive information, at the expense of privacy,” Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner Angelene Falk declared.
“We claim these actions left the personal data of around 311,127 Australian Facebook users exposed to be sold and used for purposes including political profiling, well outside users’ expectations.”
Facebook refused to comment on the case.
In July 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion for privacy violations and is instituting new oversight and restrictions on its business.
“The Commissioner may apply to the Federal Court for a civil penalty order alleging that an APP entity has engaged in serious and/or repeated interferences with privacy in contravention of s 13G of the Privacy Act.” concludes Australia’s privacy watchdog.
“The Federal Court can impose a civil penalty of up to $1,700,000 for each serious and/or repeated interference with privacy (as per the penalty rate applicable in 2014–15).”
(SecurityAffairs – Cambridge Analytica, Facebook)